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Plan Approved to Replace Grant Funding to Domestic Violence Shelters

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri Housing Development Commission has approved a plan to replace grant funding lost by at least 15 domestic violence shelters in the state and other shelters served by a grant administered by MHDC.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri Housing Development Commission has approved a plan to replace grant funding lost by at least 15 domestic violence shelters in the state and other shelters served by a grant administered by MHDC.

Under the plan the Commission has approved up to $1.4-million to fund shelters who received Emergency Shelter Grants last year and applied this year. Shelters will get the same amount they received last year, unless they applied for less this year. 

MHDC says that money will go to those shelters no later than April 1.

The Department of Social Services has also agreed to provide more than $550-thousand in excess funds from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The House Budget Committee voted to add that money to the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2015 that was passed out of the Committee on Wednesday.

If those TANF funds remain in the budget when it is approved by the legislature and the Governor, the Commission has voted to use the remainder of the $1.4 million to help sustain supplemental funding in future years.

It will be up to future state legislatures whether funding for those shelters will be included in state budgets, and MHDC Interim Executive Director Kip Stetzler says it will be up to the federal government whether that will be necessary.

“It’s hard to predict what the level of funding will be from [the US Department of Housing and Urban Development]. If we assume the same level of funding from HUD next year that we received this year, then what we will do is we will come back before the Commission and the Commission will make a determination as whether or not they elect to continue to supplement that funding.”

Stetzler told the commission $1.2-million less was available for ESG recipients this year than last … about a 37.5-percent decrease.

Stetzler says the denial of funds to those shelters stemmed from the decrease in funding and a shift in the use of ESG funds to more of a focus on homeless prevention and rapid rehousing – moving people who become homeless into permanent housing as quickly as possible.

That most of the shelters whose ESG applications were denied are in rural parts of the state was not by design, says Stetzler.

“There was certainly no intention to leave the rural shelters out,” Stetzler says. “There was a limited amount of funding and the process is a competitive one, so as the applications are submitted and as we undergo our review process, those applications are reviewed and because it’s a competitive process they are compared to one another. There many have been some deficiencies in some applications. I can’t speak specifically to individual applications but there certainly was no intention to not distribute ESG funds to the rural shelters.”

Domestic violence advocates say in the past when ESG funding has been reduced, shelters received less funding but none were cut entirely.

Stetzler was asked why the funding that was available was not divided among all shelters that applied at a prorated level rather than cut some shelters entirely.

“That’s certainly another option,” says Stetzler.

A plan to provide funding for those shelters began to develop quickly in the Nixon Administration after Missourinet and state lawmakers raised attention to the rejection of applications to 15 shelters. State Treasurer Clint Zweifel, who is a member of the Commission, says he thinks the system worked.

“I’m actually really proud,” says Zweifel. “We had a gap in the system. We added some homeless shelters that were at risk. We found a way to use resources at the state government, use resources here at MHDC to be able to get that done, that’s the purpose of the Commission.”

The shelters whose applications were denied had not been told why. Stetzler says that information will begin now that the Commission has given final approval to the grants and the process that will replace funding to those who didn’t get them.

“After today, after it’s final, our staff will work with those shelters, communicate with those shelters as to what the concerns that we had were and we’ll try to help them next year perhaps submit a more complete, if you will, application.”

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